Elation and disappointment, winners and losers and joy and tears as over 2,500 SF fans descend on the Norbreck Castle Hotel in Blackpool!
James Marsters, Spike from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, was subjected to scenes that resembled Beatlemania at the first ever SFX Event.
As the headline guest, Marsters turned out to be quite a coup, with girls literally screaming themselves hoarse and camping outside the green room waiting for a glimpse of the bottle-blond vampire. And at the SFX awards ceremony he was rarely off the stage, as he collected one award after another. He posed, he pouted, he drove the crowds wild, and when he left his seat at the end fans rushed up to stroke the place where his butt had been resting. By the end of the weekend the indefatigable Marsters had worn his signing hand away to a bloody pulp and at one point managed to have his photo taken with over 368 different convention attendees within the space of an hour.
The whole weekend was an insane rollercoaster ride that challenged the Pepsi Max experience a couple of miles along the coast at Blackpool’s famous Pleasure Beach. While there was severe disappointment for some that they didn’t manage to get Marsters’ autograph, and various glitches caused the running schedule to attain the kind of fictional status that could have won it a Booker Price, the vast majority of the crowd loved the weekend as the thunderous applause at the closing ceremony and the hordes that mobbed the bemused SFX crew for autographs afterwards attested.
Of course there was more to the weekend than Marsters and his improbable cheekbones. Victoria Pratt from Mutant X managed to make – ooh, at a guess – 2,500 new fans, simply by being so incredibly cute and funny all weekend. Being drop dead gorgeous helped as well. And for co-hosting the Awards Ceremony she receives SFX ’s first ever OFOM award (Official Friend Of The Magazine). “That’s cool,” she said when we told her, “do I get a badge?” Uh, no. We just made it up in your honour!
Brentford trilogy author Robert Rankin was, for many, the surprise hit of the weekend; if people didn’t know who he was before the Event, they were certainly vowing to check out his books after his unique performance on Sunday morning; it was one of those occasions where you know that everybody who was there was telling everybody who wasn’t there that they should have been there.
Shiri ( Roswell ) Appleby – making her first UK convention appearance – wowed her numerous fans in the audience while the delightfully irrepressible Emma ( Buffy ) Caulfield gamely battled through illness to do her signings and talks. Joe ( The Matrix / The Sopranos / Daredevil ) Pantoliano blasted on stage like a bunny who’d overdosed on Duracell, his manic humour and behind-the-scenes goss winning him some rapturous applause at the closing ceremony.
Finishing off our list of the nicest bunch of guests a convention has ever had were the remarkably charming David Soul lookalike Paul ( Farscape ) Goddard (who also earned himself an OFOM), and Deep Space Nine ’s Andrew Robinson and Alexander “Sid” Siddig who proved a quite formidable and raucous double act.
And then there were parties (and WHAT parties – real 6am in the morning jobs), Joel and Rob from Harlow Effects turning punters into Buffy demons (and turning a few female heads), 2000 AD artists scribbling away all weekend, role-playing, auctions…
Thanks to everyone who helped make the dream a reality.
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